Here's How 'Dunkirk' Maintains Its Intensity Through Sound Illusions

All thanks to the Shepard tone.

By
Entertainment
6,290 Hypes 0 Comments

If you have not seen Christopher Nolan‘s latest film, the historical drama Dunkirk, it is perhaps one of the most intense films from start to finish. Of course aided by Nolan’s signature directorial moves and Hans Zimmer‘s musical magic, the film also makes use of an auditory illusion caused by Shepard tones to create its intense effect.

Named after cognitive scientist Roger Shepard, the Shepard tone consists of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. Explained by Vox, the middle octave remains at constant volume while the top one fades out and the bottom one fades in. This effect tricks the brain into thinking (and feeling) that the pitch is continually rising, thus creating an anxiety-inducing sound. Watch the breakdown above to see how crucial the Shepard tone is to Nolan’s Dunkirk.

Hans Zimmer’s work can also be found in several other Nolan films. In an interview with Business Insider, Nolan stated:

“There’s an audio illusion, if you will, in music called a ‘Shepard tone’ and with my composer David Julyan on The Prestige we explored that, and based a lot of the score around that. It’s an illusion where there’s a continuing ascension of tone. It’s a corkscrew effect. It’s always going up and up and up but it never goes outside of its range.

And I wrote the [Dunkirk] script according to that principle. I interwove the three timelines in such a way that there’s a continual feeling of intensity. Increasing intensity. I wanted to build the music on similar mathematical principals. So there’s a fusion of music and sound effects and picture that we’ve never been able to achieve before.”

Read Full Article
Image Credit
Vox

Join Our Discussions on Discord

The HYPEBEAST Discord Server is a community where conversations on cultural topics can be taken further.

885 Users Online

What to Read Next

Nike Announces an Official Release Date for the Air VaporMax "Cool Grey"
Footwear

Nike Announces an Official Release Date for the Air VaporMax "Cool Grey"

Style and performance in all the right amounts.

Takashi Murakami Reminisces on the NYC Streetwear Scene and How Vans Slip-Ons Became His Go-To Sneaker
Footwear 

Takashi Murakami Reminisces on the NYC Streetwear Scene and How Vans Slip-Ons Became His Go-To Sneaker

Presented by Vans
The Japanese artist has worn through over 500 pairs.

South2 West8 Express Its Devotion to All Things Outdoors With Its 2017 Fall/Winter Collection
Fashion

South2 West8 Express Its Devotion to All Things Outdoors With Its 2017 Fall/Winter Collection

Outdoor everything.


Swizz Beatz Wants Kanye & Pharrell To Do a Beat Battle
Music

Swizz Beatz Wants Kanye & Pharrell To Do a Beat Battle

Following his match with Timbaland.

THE NORTH FACE PURPLE LABEL Releases a 2017 Fall/Winter Unisex Collection Lookbook
Fashion

THE NORTH FACE PURPLE LABEL Releases a 2017 Fall/Winter Unisex Collection Lookbook

Get cozy.

The Weeknd Teases New Song Featuring A$AP Rocky & Young Thug
Music

The Weeknd Teases New Song Featuring A$AP Rocky & Young Thug

Abel, Flacko and Thugger collaborate.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Help us serve you better

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads, where we can share contents from the latest fashion, to those culturally relevant. In adding HYPEBEAST to your ad blocker's whitelist, ads on our sites will show while you continue to browse.